Saturday, July 14, 2012


It’s easy to let your guard down in a small town. In Buffalo, no one locks their cars, you can leave your handbag on a seat while you dance, and there’s an air of absolute trustworthiness.
So when my camera was stolen at the Mint Bar in Sheridan, I just figured this was the Big Smoke, and I should have been more careful. But how someone had managed to pickpocket my handbag while three people were sitting beside it totally flummoxed me. After searching through my bag frantically for at least 20 minutes, asking at the bar and scouring through the rubbish on the floor, I was resigned - I’d lost my camera.
Then suddenly I saw it, casually sitting on the bar. “You might not want to look at the photos on that,” a bar customer warned me.
Yep, you got it - ass shots! Yes, my camera had been nicked ... but not as a malicious theft, but as a game of “who’s the asshole!” If anyone can identify those hairy white cheeks, can you let me know? 

                              (*NB - not suitable for children!)

I’m not sure how many people were out and about at Sheridan’s WYO Rodeo last night, but it felt like the whole town population of 17,444. And while I’m loving the solitude of the Big Horn Mountains, it felt great to be a crowd again, especially one having such a universal good time.
Held at the Fairgrounds in Sheridan over four nights, the WYO Rodeo is one of America’s top professional rodeos, on the circuit heading south from the Calgary Stampede towards the world’s largest rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days (which I’ll be attending next week - stay tuned!) It’s a must for the Paradise crew to attend; a big crowd went on Thursday night, but myself and a car-full of gals headed up the highway yesterday to attend the evening rodeo, followed by a street dance on Main Street.
The rodeo kicked off in fine style with the World Championship Indian Relay Race ... and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an incredible display of horsemanship. In this event, handsome, bare-chested young tribesmen race around the circuit bareback on fiery steeds, sliding off one horse at a gallop and leaping back onto a second, then a third horse. It’s as exciting as the Melbourne Cup, with the crowd on their feet cheering the riders - not because they have money on the outcome, but simply because the athleticism and skill on display is so incredible.

More traditional rodeo events - bareback bronc, saddle bronc and calf roping - followed ... with the handsome, well-bred and finely-tuned buckers doing a fine high-kicking job in their 8-second work day. I’m a big fan of barrel racing - with those girls really kicking butt, completing the course in around 17 seconds... while the bull riding - well, that’s just sheer madness, and I wouldn’t like to be that cowboy that was speared in the groin by a horn during a less-than-dignified dismount...

My favourite event/display of the night was the trick roping of Jose; amazing on the ground, even more spectacular on horseback, with his calm and patient quarter horse so trusting and well-behaved as the rope whizzed around his head and feet.
After a quick whip around the fairgrounds, we headed into town for the street dance, which was a blast. There were two bands playing, one at each end of the closed-off section, with totally awesome Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band (who will also be opening for Merle Haggard at Frontier Days - bring it on!) keeping the huge crowd on their toes swing dancing, and working up a sweat in the 90 degree heat. 
Hot times in the big smoke...